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Karak Norn Clansman
14-08-2012, 11:50
If you have read Silmarillion, please take a moment to vote in the poll.

Silmarillion was published posthumously during the 1970s following J.R.R. Tolkien's death by his youngest son Christopher, who for some reason dislike Peter Jackson's trilogy movies to the degree where he has broken contacts with his own son, who supported the movie project. Tolkien's publishers had earlier rejected the book, but chose to ride on the success of The Hobbit and the L.o.t.r. trilogy.

Silmarillion is a book filled with tragedy, which once was common in stories but nowadays mostly seem alien after nearly a century of Hollywood good endings. This might in some part explain the limited amount of readers which Silmarillion has attained as opposed to the trilogy and the book about Bilbo. More importantly, however, must be the complete lack of humour which permeats its pages, and because of its history-bookish chronicling of events, the Silmarillion also lacks the novels' in-depth style and ability to grip the reader by clever building up of plot and reinforcing descriptions. It is well known amongst Lotr readers that Silmarillion is a heavy book close to the Bible in ease of reading, which seem odd since a lot of the stories were influenced by old Norse mythology, and that stuff doesn't lack humour in the slightest. ;)

Still, a lot of people have read and liked the book, and some have also read the books of unfinished tales and the like which the Tolkien estate have continued to publish. If we with a pinch of salt and tounge in cheek allow ourselves to take such more fleshed-out tales as Gondolin's fall as part of the Silmarillion's stories, which one is your favourite? If you feel like it, please explain why in this thread. :)

:cheese:

For myself, that's the Darknening of Valinor and the flight of the Noldor, with Gondolin's fall right behind it. Even the ace story with mustering houses and battle desriptions on par with those in The Return of the King cannot beat Fanor's rage and destructive thirst for vengeance, or his death at the hands of a whole squadron of Balrogs. Way to go. :D

Peregrin
14-08-2012, 14:51
Hmm.... actually I usually find the Bible a little easier to read... except maybe Numbers and Leviticus. ;)

Verm1s
14-08-2012, 19:06
Straight from post #1 this topic has gone down a path that I don't see ending well, or ending without the mods chopping bits out of it.

I voted Children of Hurin. I would gush a bit more about it, but, well...

Karak Norn Clansman
14-08-2012, 21:07
@ Verm1s: I understand why. As a real-world mythological footnote, Turin Turambar's story is of course heavily based on traditional stories such as Sigurd the dragonslayer and Beowulf, with Turin's unintended marriage with his own sister and its suicidal outcome as an upbringing element which was common in old stories.

I notice now when I look at the poll that I've missed El the dark elf's story. It never stuck with me as some other tales did.

The Dire Troll
15-08-2012, 18:56
I always did like the fall of numenor. dratted valar keeping immortality just for the elves, that was never going to end well.

Peregrin
15-08-2012, 19:56
Ended well enough for them.... ;)

static grass
15-08-2012, 20:00
I voted Children of Hurin. Utterly depressing. Its an extremely well written tale. Only the dead win glory the rest are just survivors.

The Dire Troll
15-08-2012, 22:13
Why couldn't they just share the immortality around? to me that seems like something that Morgoth or Sauron would do, control the ultimate flow of power for them selves and their chosen. I am sure if the power had been shared, Numenor would not of rebelled, now that would of helped later on down the road I am sure. This thread has reminded me that I really cant remember much of the stories, must re read them.

Peregrin
16-08-2012, 12:25
It's grander than that. Elves have their season and their place, while men have theirs.
In one sense both men and elves have their version of an afterlife and immortality, but there's a season when all of the elves are pulled out of the world and into that afterlife, while men are left to continue Middle Earth's history. As well, Elves seem to have a serious breeding issue. With lives as long as theirs they should be overrunning the world, but instead you never hear about elf children. It's like their ability to produce gets taken away at some point, unless they mix with humans. It's never mentioned, but you have to wonder....

Edit:
But honestly, if it weren't immortality, Sauron would have found something else to make the Numenoreans jealous. They grasped for something (the lands even more than the immortality) that wasn't theirs and tried to take it by force.

Karak Norn Clansman
16-08-2012, 13:23
The Valar also had nothing to do with the mortality of Men and the immortality of Elves (except maybe for foreboding it in the Song of Ainur), since these two sapient species were the children of the creator (Illuvatar), not the gods (Valar).

I did not get the impression Elves have a serious breeding issue. J.R.R. Tolkien never finished his masterwork and for this reason even seem to have wished for others to expand on it as long as this was made according to the spirit of the Lotr world. For this reason we do not even see the genealogy of the House of Finw fully fleshed out. Hints of this include the F.o.t.R. glimpse of Gildor Inglorion, a minor noble of the House of Finrod, and Celebrimbor, grandson of Fanor. In Silmarillion, Finrod Felagund tells Galadhriel he won't marry and have children (as other Elves) because there will be no kingdom left to inherit. Yet Tolkien seem to have changed his mind for the trilogy and let Finrod have children despite his gloomy outlook, since there was a House of Finrod to begin with.

Celebrimbor in turn was the son of Curufin and parted ways with his father in Nargothrond, but we never learn about his mother. This might have something to do with the use of the sons of Fanor as villains, and probably for this reason Tolkien did not write anything about the families of the seven sons of Fanor, or hardly anything about their doings besides keeping watch in eastern Beleriand, having their various realms, hunting in the wild, taking up customs fees from dwarves, striking alliances, waging war and pursuing the Oath of Fanor. Perhaps Tolkien intended to flesh out details about the wives, children and descendants of the sons of Fanor, perhaps Tolkien intended to carry the Fanorian heritage through by writing something on the sons' mastery of crafts and some making of great artefacts, but this did not happen. It is probably safe to say there were still descendants of Fanor in the Third Age.

As we see, even the high nobility's family trees were not fully fleshed out, and this might have been intentional. Perhaps Cirdan the Shipwright was married and had a a small army of descendants. Perhaps not. Furthermore, we learn of several large population growth periods amongst the Elves in Middle-Earth, namely during the Siege of Angband and during the Second Age before Sauron waged war against the Elves (and even then Elven populations might have regained numbers, as they might have done to a lesser degree after the murderous War of the Last Alliance). In the end, however, the Elves became weary of the world and as a result of this set sail for Valinor, regardless of how large their various populations might have grown. Perhaps there are Elven couples who have sired over a hundred children over the Ages. Probably not. Since Elves are immortal and immune to diseases, it is probably safe to say that it is biologically sound of them to have a relatively low or slow breeding rate, if they want to avoid drenching the entire world in hordes of Elves. That might have been a serious obstacle against that blasted fading of the Elves thing. :D

Peregrin
16-08-2012, 17:42
... Perhaps there are Elven couples who have sired over a hundred children over the Ages. Probably not. Since Elves are immortal and immune to diseases, it is probably safe to say that it is biologically sound of them to have a relatively low or slow breeding rate, if they want to avoid drenching the entire world in hordes of Elves. That might have been a serious obstacle against that blasted fading of the Elves thing. :D

Sorry. I didn't elaborate. I know there are pleanty of geneologies and such in the time of the Silmarillion, fleshed out or otherwise. I was refering to the era from the Last Alliance until the end of the LotR books. I realize it's an argument from silence regarding the masses of elves, but the ones that Tolkien focuses on seem to have had their children thousands of years before. I suppose it's possible that regardless of their 'immortality' that they come to an age where they no longer concieve. Taking Arwen as an example, though, she was over 2000 years old in the LotR and was able to concieve with Aragorn, yet she was Elrond's youngest child.

Another argument from silence, Tolkien expressly mentions Hobbit, Human, and Dwarf children but no mention of Elf children in the LotR narrative, that I recall. (Dwarves don't have many children because there are less women than men, generally, and not all of those women choose to marry).

So what I meant by 'serious breeding problem' is only in relation to men, who seem to have as many or more children in a lot shorter span of time.

Karak Norn Clansman
16-08-2012, 18:07
Sorry. I didn't elaborate. I know there are pleanty of geneologies and such in the time of the Silmarillion, fleshed out or otherwise. I was refering to the era from the Last Alliance until the end of the LotR books. I realize it's an argument from silence regarding the masses of elves, but the ones that Tolkien focuses on seem to have had their children thousands of years before. I suppose it's possible that regardless of their 'immortality' that they come to an age where they no longer concieve. Taking Arwen as an example, she was over 2000 years old in the LotR.

Another argument from silence, Tolkien expressly mentions Hobbit, Human, and Dwarf children but no mention of Elf children in the LotR narrative, that I recall. (Dwarves don't have many children because there are less women than men, generally, and not all of those women choose to marry).

So what I meant by 'serious breeding problem' is only in relation to men, who seem to have as many or more children in a lot shorter span of time.

I understand, and compared to Humans, Elves might very well have a problem in the area. This could account for the driving-out of Avari Elves in the east during the first age, since they seem mainly to have lived as nomads who were quite content with their lives until Men showed up and overrun the place. (The decline of Elves in the west seem to have been due to war and no-return voyages to Valinor, whereas the decline of Elves in the east was due to the expansion of Humans.)

Personally I think most Elves in Tolkien's universe tend to be content with their lives once the family have been established (probably with decades or centuries between the births) and generally do not see the need for more offspring. For Elves, time pass by in another tempo than for Humans, and as long as their lives are not upset by bloody upheaval (such as the killing of one's children or the slaughter of a great many kinsmen in times of great war) there is rarely reason for them to have more children. As such, Elves and Men would be biologically geared for different life cycles, which would indeed be a problem and a disadvantage for the Elves when contest of lands arose in Middle-Earth during the First Age and beyond.

I also got the impression that there were Elf children in the late Third Age when reading the Hobbit, where Elf youngsters vex the Dwarves as they arrive to Imladris.

The Dire Troll
16-08-2012, 22:06
I really should of looked at the bigger picture, at the time I forgot about the elves traveling west :o I was under the impression that over time the Elves just have not been able to keep up with the losses they have suffered, ironically turning their ageless state in to a curse, thus there departing from middle earth. I cant really envision an Elven family having legions of children, I assumed it was part of Elven culture to have a smallish family, and as such an ancient race, they would never change.

Peregrin
16-08-2012, 23:47
...I also got the impression that there were Elf children in the late Third Age when reading the Hobbit, where Elf youngsters vex the Dwarves as they arrive to Imladris.

I haven't read the Hobbit in a while.... I never thought of them as youngsters, just as trying their best to irritate the Dwarves. Tolkien definitely establishes a different view of the elves between the Hobbit and LotR, though Elrond is the noble host to Gandalf and company in both.

Karak Norn Clansman
17-08-2012, 05:53
I haven't read the Hobbit in a while.... I never thought of them as youngsters, just as trying their best to irritate the Dwarves. Tolkien definitely establishes a different view of the elves between the Hobbit and LotR, though Elrond is the noble host to Gandalf and company in both.

In The Hobbit, Gandalf remarked on how some young Elves had all too sharp tounges after the vexing songs. The impression of Elves differ a lot from The Hobbit and the Lotr trilogy, but hardly at all between the Lotr trilogy and those works of Tolkien which were not published before his death (in effect Silmarillion et al). The Hobbit was of course written so as to be available for younger readers, but actually the arrival to Rivendell scene made a lot of sense when viewing Middle-Earth from a wider perspective.

For one thing, the irritating youngsters in the book brought the Elves a lot closer to appear as creatures who, despite immortality, superior senses and other high-tailed peculiarities, are real, living beings. Most of Tolkien's work is filled with a strive for something high, and tragedies and deadly seriousness are part of this. The lack of humour and more down-to-earth elements is both an obstacle for the reader's attempt to plow through the volume, and a dampener on the value of realism conveyed by the story.

In a children's book, Tolkien allowed himself to let good humour show in his writing, and however shallow the Hobbit is, it really is one of his stories which feels the most alive. In Sil we have the high and sublime side of the Elves (including a fall from these heights of grace and the sorrow this cause), but in the Hobbit we encounter the other side of the medallion, with Elves who vex dwarves and appear more grounded in the world. The Silvan Elven barrel raftsmen certainly added to this down-to-earth impression, as did the Elf who drank 'til he dropped in Thranduil's halls. To me, these are exactly the kind of things which the First Age stories needed. The high and grand cannot come through as such without something humorous and less high beside it; it is all a relative matter.

Thranduil's less than perfect doings in the Hobbit, such as the imprisonment of the dwarves, does however not seem to differ with the impression we get of Elves in Tolkien's other works. Example given: Beren's treatment in Doriath seems like a precedent. Tolkien might have writ the Elves as higher beings, but not as perfect ones.

Peregrin
20-08-2012, 12:46
Hmmm... definitely understand what you're saying... 'young elves' may be relative, of course. I don't think any of us would get the impression that Arwen is 2500 yrs old, for instance. (Edit: I'll have to reread that, but much of what was written in the Hobbit was 'retconned' in later published works, so it's hard to tell if Tolkien's own intention towards his created universe is actually conveyed in parts of the Hobbit.)

I find the silly elements, like the trolls and some of the actions of the Dwarves, etc., throw off the reality of the Hobbit, but I agree with you about Silmarillion. It reads like a history book rather than a narrative which takes away the sense of being right in the story from the reader. There is just enough 'reality' and humour in LotR to bridge the two, IMO, but some modern authors have definitely managed to take the genre created by Tolkien and inject that almost first person experience into the narrative.

Whitwort Stormbringer
30-08-2012, 00:01
I voted Children of Hurin, but there are a lot of pretty good stories in there - Beren and Luthien is probably a close second. Honestly I'm less interested in the more mythological tales like the Music of the Ainur, it's more the interactions of elves, men, and orcs that I find interesting.


Personally I think most Elves in Tolkien's universe tend to be content with their lives once the family have been established (probably with decades or centuries between the births) and generally do not see the need for more offspring. For Elves, time pass by in another tempo than for Humans, and as long as their lives are not upset by bloody upheaval (such as the killing of one's children or the slaughter of a great many kinsmen in times of great war) there is rarely reason for them to have more children. As such, Elves and Men would be biologically geared for different life cycles

Agreed - if you're immortal, there's not necessarily a strong imperative to have children who can carry on your legacy. While many elves do have children, they seem not to have many or have them very often. Conversely, we mostly hear about their sons as we discuss royal lineages, and it's not unreasonable to suspect that some elves had unnamed daughters as well.

And as Peregrin points out, elven "youngsters" could still be fairly old by human or dwarf standards, and just have led very sheltered lives. IIRC, we don't know exactly how old Legolas is, but he could well be several hundred years old and until the Council of Elrond he had never left Mirkwood. He certainly seems fairly young, even if not as impetuous as the elves from The Hobbit. Of course, it's been some time since I've read the books so the movie version of the character may be tainting my memory.

Peregrin
30-08-2012, 17:52
Some circumstancial evidence mentioned at http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/l/legolas.html:


Though Legolas' age is never established with certainty, he hints several times that he has lived for a very long time indeed. For example, pondering the building of Meduseld in Edoras, he said 'Five hundred times have the red leaves fallen in Mirkwood in my home since then ... and but a little while does that seem to us' (The Two Towers III 6, The King of the Golden Hall). If he really sees five hundred years as 'a little while', then he would appear to be several thousand years old.

Vampiric16
05-10-2012, 12:26
I voted fall of Gondolin, because Balrogs on dragons!

Odin
09-10-2012, 00:37
I assume the best stories are in the second half of the book, but I never got that far because I got bored halfway through and gave up. Twice.

brain_dead_1st
10-11-2012, 16:16
I assume the best stories are in the second half of the book, but I never got that far because I got bored halfway through and gave up. Twice.

Ditto,
what a waste of paper the first half is

Haldir77
10-11-2012, 18:32
Don't get me depressed! I just started reading the book yesterday!:p

anyway I must agree the first parts are a we bit boring but interesting nonetheless .

Asrai Syrion
18-11-2012, 11:26
This is'nt really endearing me to read this

But I will soldier on

Karak Norn Clansman
18-11-2012, 19:49
This is'nt really endearing me to read this

But I will soldier on

There, there. The book was never finished and should perhaps have been given a chance by Tolkien's publishers if he were to rewrite the narrative in a more conventional novel book style, and if they had forced him to introduce amusing elements in his epic and mostly tragic Silmarillion stories. The odd thing is that the Sil is based a lot on Nordic and other old, polytheistic mythology, but yet it lacks all of the comic bits which can be found in those mythologies. If one wants a laugh out of old stories, one'd better read Nordic sagas and the like. If one wants more of Tolkien's Middle-Earth, one should read the Silmarillion, but do try the real world stuff as well!

Still, the Sil is a great book in many respects (I admit this despite my dislike of the fading of elves and dwarves) and should be given a fair chance by any reader of Fantasy or Tolkien. The first half isn't a complete waste of paper, despite a lot of long-winded pieces which were hard to keep the concentration up throughout. The creation myth might be quite boring, but it is also sleek and pretty smart, and the fury of Fanor is one of the best parts of the book despite the glaring tragedy. (I can stand tragedies, but it is more than irritating when one's clear favourite character - not necessarily the primary ones - becomes the focus of some horrid story twists.)

Soldier on and find out yourself if the book is to your liking, and what parts are not. :)

Polaria
25-11-2012, 16:27
As a real-world mythological footnote, Turin Turambar's story is of course heavily based on traditional stories such as Sigurd the dragonslayer and Beowulf, with Turin's unintended marriage with his own sister and its suicidal outcome as an upbringing element which was common in old stories.


Turin Turambars story is one of those where -Tolkien didn't really bother to invent anything own. He basically carbon-copied much of it from The Kullervo Cycle of Kalevala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalevala#The_Kullervo_cycle).

Hrokka `Eadsplitter
29-11-2012, 16:49
Tolkien once described his work with Middle-Earth as a new mythology, something to take pride in. What he meant was that of the original meltdown of cultures that became the UK never had a common mythology. Celts, Picts, Romans, Saxons and Vikings all was mixed up and that the UK never had their own national Epic Mythology like Finland had the Kaalevaala, Greece the Illiad and Scandinavia had our Norse Mythology. And that his work was a try to make up for that. This is of course my interpretation of a random letter that was read in a documentary. I do not claim knowing anything about Tolkiens purpose, but those reasons give room for speculation.

Yes, Turin Trambar, the Dagnir Glaurunga, is pretty much Sigurd Fafnirsbane in Middle-Earth, but hey, which author would pass on making his own version of that?
The Children of Hrin is perhaps the piece of Silmarillion I personally like the best.
The curse of Morgoth does not only affect Turin, but also wreaks havoc wherever he goes.
(On a sidenote, does anyone know what happened to the Dragon Helmet of Dr-Lomin? Can't find a thing about where it went after Turin laid his hands on it)

The Silmarillion is Tolkiens own attempt at writing an Edda, an Illiad or even a re-write of the bible, for Middle-Earth. (And it's far more interesting than at least the bible)
Oh, and Tuor was great fun reading about, but his story just ends a tad to happily for my taste. Yes, I'm a horrible person.
Cheers.

juicytomatoes
25-12-2012, 15:51
I loved Fingolfin's solo charge to his doom all due to a misinterpretation of events. Just thought it was cool that he could wound the greatest of the Valar... :D

Powerposey
27-12-2012, 19:47
I loved Fingolfin's solo charge to his doom all due to a misinterpretation of events. Just thought it was cool that he could wound the greatest of the Valar... :D

Agreed, this is my favorite story. I cannot begin to count how many times I have read that part since I was a young lad.

Karak Norn Clansman
28-12-2012, 08:05
Fingolfin's duel with Morgoth was a fine point in the Sil, but I'd argue it doesn't come close to Fanor's charge into a cohort of Balrogs. If nothing else, the latter would have looked splendid in a movie, and especially if Fanor would have slain and wounded a few of the Balrogs.

On a side note:

Despite its age, Gondolin's fall always read as a surprisingly good story which would have fit into the wider writings without too much effort at editing and rewriting. The battle of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King was obviously inspired by the battle and faction descriptions, and these two pieces of writing are my favourites amongst Tolkien's work, along with The Hobbit, oddly enough. I'd have very much liked to see a finished version of Gondolin's fall, especially because I still wonder what Rog the elf would have been called had JRR Tolkien revisited the story. :D